|Off Reb Rate||41.9||35.3|
I could start with, "well, I have good news and bad news," and then segue on to about seven different topics. State played hard tonight, the crowd was good, the players fed off it, and the game kinda felt like one of those games back when I was in college and there were actual stakes involved.
It looked like they were going to overcome an 11-point first half deficit and win the game going away after Alex Johnson scored to put the Wolfpack up seven with less than eight minutes to play. But Indiana didn't fade, and yeah, there were some--shall we say--iffy whistles down the stretch, but I can't help but dwell on the three free throws in a row that Richard Howell missed, or that gimme fast-break layup he missed, or that amusing turnover exchange between the two teams. We squandered a lot of opportunities in the second half that could have made those last five minutes different, no matter the calls. So I'm more preoccupied with how we were in control and could have put the game away regardless of the officiating. But it all super sucked hugely. I want to go Jim Bridge on this shit.
We came into the night ranked 293rd in 3FG% defense and Indiana hit 7 of 13, and as I said earlier, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that our opponents will cool off, and this thing that's been particularly damaging to our overall defensive efficiency won't hurt as much as it has. There's a fluky aspect to three-point shooting, obviously, and to some extent we've just been on the wrong end of it. That said, we still do not have an above average defensive club, and that's certainly evident along the perimeter as much as it is anywhere else. There still is a lot of work to be done at the defensive end... fighting through screens, rotating, communicating, taking fewer gambles at steals, understanding how to play your man based on the situation and his place on the floor... it's all lacking. And that's fine. You can't erase x years of bad habits in the time Gottfried has had with these kids.
I'm encouraged, though. It's been an enjoyable team to watch. There is a systemic immaturity that's going to have to be eradicated from these guys, but as long as they're making progress, I'm going to feel okay about where we are in year one of the Gottfried era. As long as they play together and play hard, that's a huge difference, and they're going to be competitive and give us plenty to be happy about, bad habits aside.